Taking Model Railroad Photos with Paul Dolkos

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Duration: 4:42

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In this video Paul Dolkos shares some railroad photography tips. To take photos, he uses a tripod with a long exposure to be able to get depth of field. One useful part of the tripod is the pan head that helps to level out the camera easily. For instance when he wants to shoot inside the railroad, Paul has made a little cantilever to mount the camera further out from the tripod. Another way to shoot further inside the layout is to simply set the camera down on the layout itself for a low angle shot and realistic view point. Since many time you are taking pictures in tight quarters, a good accessory for a camera is a right angle viewfinder. This works like a periscope to look through the viewfinder from above.

An important railroad photography tip is to shoot at the smallest F stop as possible. This lense stops down at F32. The first step to light a layout is to make the scene look like it is under sunlight. The first light is the key light mimicking the sun, positioning it to the side of the camera to create a sense of side lighting for a more dramatic look. The second light Paul uses is a fill light, to fill in some shadows and lower the contrast. The third light is for the backgrounds.

Often modelers light locomotives, cars and immediate structures, but forget about the background so it’s dark in the back, like a thunderstorm is approaching. Paul uses professional halogen bulb lights. An alternative is a basic reflector with photoflood bulbs. All the lights are balanced for 3200 calvin, for the color temperature that one would expect to see outside. This means that the film you shoot in has to be tungsten rated for 3200 to be compatible. For more tips and tricks like how to use photos for model railroad backdrops, check out on archives.